Hardware is the physical part of a computer or computer system. It is made up of electrical, electronic, electromechanical and mechanical components, such as cable and light circuits, boards, memories, hard drives, peripheral devices and any other material in physical condition that is necessary to make the equipment work.

The term hardware comes from English, means hard parts and its use has been adopted in the Spanish language without translation, being used to refer to the material components that make up a computer equipment.

At present, hardware also refers to the physical part of equipment of various kinds, such as appliances, cars, smartphones, tablets, cameras, electronic equipment or mechanical parts.

Hardware evolution

Since the appearance of the first computer machines in the 1940s to the present, hardware creation has evolved to adapt to new technologies and users. From this series of changes, 4 generations of hardware are distinguished:

  • First generation of hardware (1945-1956): use of vacuum tubes in calculation machines.
  • Second generation of hardware (1957-1963): vacuum tubes were replaced by transistors.
  • Third generation of hardware (1964-present): creation of components based on integrated circuits printed on a silicon tablet.
  • Fourth generation of hardware (future): all hardware made with new materials and formats other than silicon, and which are still in the research, design, development or implementation phase.

Hardware classification

The hardware is classified into 6 categories, according to the performance of its components.

Processing hardware

It corresponds to the Central Processing Unit or CPU, the logical operations center of the computer, where the tasks necessary for the operation of the rest of the components are interpreted and executed.

Storage hardware

As its name indicates, it refers to all the components whose function is to safeguard the information so that the user can access it at any time. The main device in this case is the RAM ( Random Access Memory ), but it is also made up of secondary memories, such as hard drives or SSD or USB memories.

Graphic hardware

It is mainly composed of graphics cards that have their own memory and CPU, and are responsible for interpreting and executing the signals dedicated to the construction of images. The fact that this function does not fall on the CPU has to do with efficiency, since by freeing those functions to the main memory, the system works optimally.

Peripheral devices

It is all the hardware that allows the information to enter the computer, or go outside. They are subdivided into three categories.

  • Peripherals input: are those that allow data access to the computer. For example, the keyboard, the microphone, the webcam, etc.
  • Peripherals output: through them, the user can extract information, such as scanners, printers, consoles and speakers or speakers.
  • Input and output or mixed peripherals: they are able to enter or extract information. Touch screens fall into this category, as do DVD or BlueRay readers and flash memories. The latter are essentially secondary memories, but are used as mixed peripherals.

Hardware and software

For the proper functioning of the hardware, software is also needed , which is the logical part of computing and is not tangible. It is there where all the instructions or tasks performed by an electronic system are coded. The software includes everything from the operating system to desktop applications that allow you to execute specific tasks, such as the text or image editor.

The combination of software and hardware is what allows the computer to work more accurately and efficiently.